Council leader pledge to focus on Thanet residents living in ‘intolerable’ conditions

Council leader Rick Everitt

Too many people in Thanet are suffering due to unsuitable or overcrowded housing, says Thanet council leader Rick Everitt.

The Newington ward councillor says although much work is being carried out to provide new homes for those on the council waiting list and to tackle the issue of homelessness, not enough focus has been on helping those whose living conditions are ‘intolerable.’

In his leader’s speech to full council, Cllr Everitt said: “The council recognised that it needs to do more in its Housing, Homelessness and Rough sleeper strategy earlier this year and I was reassured by the engagement it received from members.

“However, this shortfall has human consequences. As Newington ward councillor I represent an area where the effects on some people’s lives are apparent. A significant proportion of the casework I receive is from residents who are housed in intolerable conditions, but nonetheless cannot easily be rehoused because of the shortage of suitable available homes.

“These issues include overcrowding, disabled people stranded in their homes or unable to access bathroom facilities on an upper floor and others with a variety of mental and physical health conditions for whom their housing situation is seriously affecting their quality of life.

“Too often these conversations start, never mind end, with the belief that nothing can be done. It is a dispiriting experience for all concerned.

“This is not the result of council officers being unwilling to help, or an unfair rationing system. It is the consequence of long-term structural failure in housing supply at national level, dictated by national policy. Even the government’s new planning white paper focuses on helping people to buy, when the priority for Thanet is affordable rent.

“We should not confuse this with an argument about the desirability of individual housing sites in the local plan, which can be contentious. It is about the unacceptable conditions in which some of the people we represent already live in Thanet, whether as council tenants or in the private rented sector.

“These individual cases are, of course, confidential and don’t usually make headlines. They necessarily affect a minority of residents who may be concentrated in particular wards.

“There is a risk that in talking about numbers, reassuring ourselves that our policies are fair and that our officers are doing everything they can, we can fail to recognise the individual suffering that continues.

“We rightly prioritise tackling homelessness because rough sleeping is highly visible and temporary accommodation is expensive. But I do not believe that collectively we give the problem of residents who are unsuitably housed enough attention.

“That is why I am arguing that the return to direct management of our housing stock needs to mark a significant refocus, not just on providing all our tenants with a better service, but in putting housing at the heart of the council’s agenda.”

A cross party housing committee will now be created at Thanet council to look at ways of tackling the issue.

36 new homes to be bought or built

Next Thursday Cabinet members are also expected to approve an £8.822 million spend to provide 36 homes for people on the authority’s housing waiting list.

Some £4.5m has already been approved for Phase 4 of the council’s house provision programme with 30% of the budget made up of Right to buy receipts and the other 70% from the authority’s housing pot.

A report to Cabinet members says: “It is anticipated that the programme will deliver around 36 new homes for affordable rent for households in housing need on the council’s housing register.  These additional homes will increase the number of new homes provided by the council as a result of its new build, acquisition and refurbishment programmes to a total of 191 since 2015.

“Over the past 5 years a total of 265 affordable homes have been provided by the council and its Housing Association partners. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment completed in 2016 identified a need for 397 affordable homes per year, however, it is anticipated that this figure could rise significantly.

“New initiatives to increase the supply of new affordable homes are needed and this is recognised in the new Housing, Homelessness and Rough Sleeper strategy, agreed by the council earlier this year.”

There has been a rapid growth in homelessness in Thanet with 79 households currently living in temporary accommodation provided by the council.

The Phase 4 programme aims to buy up to 16 two, three or four bedroom by December 2020 and March 2021. A further 10 one, two, or three bedroom homes will be built on TDC land during 2022 and around 10 one, two, or three bedroom homes will be built by March 2023.

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17 Comments

  1. I am sure you are right. Housing needs to be at the centre of your work but families are also deprived of basic things such as parks, playgrounds and safe free indoor spaces to meet. There are too many spaces, places and facilities that have been kept empty during the past 8 months when they could have been opened up and families allowed to use them in safe ways. We could have had an indoor playground in the Winter Gardens or craft workshops for small groups who socially distanced in some of the empty shops or production of local produce from gleaned goods in any of the very many professional kitchens that have stood empty. This could have made a real difference to those stuck in depressing accommodation on their own or families desperate for somewhere to go for free. This sort of initiative lifts spirits and cheers people up and costs little. One of my daughter’s memories is of running and screaming at the top of her voice in a big empty hall as I washed the toy library’s toys.

  2. All very well, but does the definition of intolerable conditions include the council housing stock that still doesn’t comply with the 2005 fire safety order act? TDC starved EKH of funds to do these works to flatter the accounts of TDC. So the money saved will now be spent on new housing , fair enough but atleast be honest about it.
    TDC could easily buy ex rtb flats on the open market for 90-120k, a quick refurb and you have additional housing quickly and at minimal cost plus regain overall control of a property. But it. Won’t happen.

  3. Good luck with that my husband has suffered severe depression and anxiety through the way we have to live East Kent housing housing options all know about his condition and they all turn a blind eye. As long as they received the rent money they don’t care. they’ve even received a letter from his psychiatrist saying that he’s housing isn’t acceptable and is adding to his mental stress anything done nothing so maybe you could make a change time will tell

  4. Nothing will change even tho council been brought back in house. It’s the same old employers same old rules collect the rent don’t worry the repairs don’t worry about tenants needs. It’s all a cover up

  5. 36 houses at an average of £245,000 each should provide some nice quality housing for three dozen lucky families . . . or a very lucrative contract for whoever gets to build them !

  6. Local Chap is spot on. TDC part owned East Kent Housing and put their tenants lives at risk by not carrying out their statutory functions. Now they are feigning compassion for the plight of families in sub standard accommodation?

    Hypocrites.

  7. The housing crisis is all down to Margaret Thatcher’s disastrous policy to sell off council houses, and Buy to Let! Many landlords use Buy to Let to buy previously owned Council Houses, an re-let them out to tenants who in many cases receive Housing Benefit! Why are tax payers paying off someone else’s mortgage? As a former member of the Chartered Institute of Building I have been lobbying for years for councils to be given money to buy back former council houses, as the owners sell them. Over £8 billion a year of tax payers money is given out in Housing Benefit, this money should be used to by back former council homes!

  8. We need jobs so we can afford the houses , but some just moved to the area for a peaceful life dont want the area to progress

  9. The situation is made worse since housing associations have been allowed to sell off empty properties, reducing the available housing stock. Private landlords are subsidised by us o enable them to charge the high rents in this area whilst housing benefits hasn’t risen accordingly.

    • Local housing Allowance for a 2 bed property is 650 a month, that lags inflation by 70 a month from the 1999 average for a 2 bed rental.
      Council tax payers will cover the pension cost of the TDC employees that look after the housing stock , but council tax payers won’t be paying for a private landlords pension. So yet another subsidy for council renters from the tax payer. Private landlords pay tax the council doesn’t so again there is a subsidy for the social tenant. Private landlords have to pay to meet the new proposed improvements in energy efficiency , the tax payer will be giving 3.8 billion ( minimum) to social housing providers.
      In the end there is ver little difference in the cost of renting in either sector , just who pays it.

  10. Private renters number about 20% or one in five, and for the most will be doing so for the rest of their lives! In my experience tenants do not have the same social commitment to where they live, caused mostly by landlords increasing rents, forcing tenants to have to move. If you want to see where most tenants live look no further than the lower end of the property market, and you will see the roads full of their filth, as they have no commitment to the area, and couldn’t care less if they devalue the property!

    Then there is the long term tenant who may have been living quite happily for many years, but is forced to move when the landlord dies, and their children who inherit the property would sooner sell up, and divide the proceeds, so force the tenant out! I have seen this happen, and its happening more often than people realise, due to demographics as landlords are getting older!

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